In the past few weeks, we've been pretty well stuck for various reasons - not much riding in the park via the road, and the river was still too quicksand-y to get safely across. It's not just boring, it has even led to minor panic about 'how will I get the pony in shape in the next three months?!'
(Which, for the record? Totally irrational. Fetti has a perfectly good base of fitness to at least complete another slow 25 by July. Speeding it up much may not happen, but completing ought to be fine. Three months: exactly how much time folks recommend for a pasture-fit horse to leg up for a slow 25.)
I did what any crazy conditioning rider would do: I headed out to our tiny little back trails, trotted a few loops at a brisk pace, tracked the whole thing on the iPhone, and figured out how many laps would be a mile. From one entrance to the woods over to the other is approximately 0.2 miles. It's about half real-singletrack type trail with twists and turns, and half wider, vaguely flat trail. Throw in a fallen tree to navigate over and the inevitable barn sour pony wanting to trot INTO home and not back away? Definite challenge. A reasonable average speed here is probably a bit quicker than absolutely necessary on the trails, and thus excellent training grounds.
Our first time out (April 14th): 0.4 miles, 4 minutes, 4.93mph (one *full* loop, back & forth to starting point).
April 16th: 1.07miles, 14 minutes, 4.35mph (accounts for additional tree-crossings and discussions about not going home just yet)
April 18th, we made it out on a Real Trail Ride! Two gaited horses, one golden pony. Total distance 7.91miles, 2h29min, 3.18mph including a break midway through and walking the last two miles home.
April 20th: jump school in the heat (woohoo! nothing like watching a younger rider hop the pony over a few jumps - and yes, I jumped Fetti a bit too), then into the woods for good measure. 1.17miles, 13 minutes, 5.09mph. We worked bits of canter into this mile.
April 22nd: across the river we go, and no sinking ponies! 4.68miles, 1h19min, 3.55mph. Distance and time starts prior to the river.. and includes Fetti going backwards initially, sideways when I asked her to pass, and generally being a brat about going forwards. (In her defense, I'd pointed her across the river 2-3 times prior to the Real Ride. She thought she got to be done after that.)